Another penalty miss cost Manchester United dearly on Saturday but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left baffled as to how his side did not get two more spot-kicks before being stunned 2-1 by Crystal Palace.
Patrick Van Aanholt’s stoppage-time winner gave Palace their first league win at Old Trafford since 1989, with United left to rue Marcus Rashford’s missed penalty, which span across the face of goal after striking the left-hand post just after the hour.
Rashford had replaced Paul Pogba on penalty duties after the France midfielder missed from the spot in Monday’s 1-1 draw at Wolves, but he recorded his first miss from the spot in professional football.
There was still time for Daniel James to score an 88th-minute equaliser, cancelling out Jordan Ayew’s 32nd-minute opener, but Palace would have the final word.
United had plenty of opportunities, taking 22 shots at goal in the match, but Solskjaer could not understand why neither Anthony Martial not Rashford were awarded penalties when they tumbled under the attentions of Martin Kelly in the second half.
“I think we were unlucky with Martial because it was a clear and obvious penalty, nailed on, and I think when the referee sees the game he will know he’s not had his best,” Solskjaer said.
Asked if he was surprised VAR did not intervene, Solskjaer continued: “I am, because it’s a nailed-on penalty. He will not slip if he does not have a 100-kilo defender on his shoulders.”
Solskjaer said VAR was still too subjective, and added that James was unlucky to pick up a second booking for diving in the space of a week.
“I think with VAR they let the referee’s decision be subjective one way or another,” he said. “I think it’s a clear and obvious penalty (for Martial) and I also think it’s a penalty for Marcus when he runs and gets pulled down a little bit.
“And I’m 100 per cent sure of contact between Daniel James and their defender and now he’s on two yellow cards where there’s been contact with him. It’s very unfair, very unlucky. Both yellow cards shouldn’t have stood.”
The non-penalties were not the only decisions to anger United, with Palace debutant Gary Cahill admitting after the game he may well have seen red when he brought down Martial on the edge of the area, with the Frenchman through on goal late in the first half.
But Palace manager Roy Hodgson disagreed, and suggested VAR is in danger of being too clinical in its decision-making.
“I see things from a football point of view, not from a VAR perspective or a journalistic perspective… ‘Was it a foul, a touch? Let’s have look 50 times’,” Hodgson said.
“I thought it was a penalty when Luke (Milivojevic) tackled (Scott) McTominay. I thought straight away it was a penalty. I didn’t need VAR, just as it didn’t look like any other penalties in the game for me from a football perspective.
“Unfortunately today penalties are seen everywhere because we’re looking through everything with a fine toothcomb.
“We’re talking margins and technology has taken away some of the feeling that people like myself and Sir Alex Ferguson might have had in terms of saying there might have been contact but it wasn’t a penalty.”
With the decisions having gone his side’s way, Hodgson could instead celebrate Palace’s first Old Trafford victory in Premier League history.
“When you’ve been working as long as I have there are quite a few nuggets if I bothered to really think about that or write them down and remind myself of it,” the 72-year-old said.
“I will certainly remind myself about this one but my thoughts will turn very quickly to Colchester (in the Carabao Cup) because it’s never going to be an easy game.”